Born This Way

The results are in, and the winner of the 2013-14 Distinguished Young Women of the Lakewood Area competition is Corrine Cardinale.

Cardinale, a senior at Maple Grove High School, won the crown for this year’s competition Saturday at the Jamestown High School auditorium, earning a $3,000 scholarship for her victory and an extra $1,500 in scholarship awards from the categories of panel interview, poise and the “Be Your Best Self Scholarship.”

“It’s honestly unbelievable,” said Cardinale, who plans to study law at the University of Maryland. “It’s such an honor to be chosen for this, but every single girl deserves to win this. When I first decided to join this program, I honestly had no idea what I was signing up for. But as soon as I met the girls, I knew I was in and I knew I would love it. It was a lot of hard work and a lot of hours, but it definitely paid off in the end.”

In addition to her monetary earnings and area recognition, Cardinale will also have the opportunity to represent the Lakewood area in the statewide Distinguished Young Women of New York competition in Albany in February.

This year’s Distinguished Young Women of the Lakewood Area program, formerly known as Lakewood Area Junior Miss, showcased the talents of 12 regional high school seniors representing six Chautauqua County school districts, including Jamestown, Southwestern, Bemus Point, Falconer, Cassadaga Valley and Fredonia.

The theme of the program was “Born This Way,” incorporating competition in categories such as fitness, self-expression and talent.

For the second year in a row, the program was co-chaired by Danielle Bongiovanni, Kaycee Currie and Christine Yocum. According to Currie, this year’s winner is the embodiment of the Lakewood area’s ideal representative at the state level.

“I think (Cardinale) is a great representative for the girls because we’re not really choosing a winner, we’re choosing a representative out of a group of winners,” said Currie, who was a participant in the 2007-08 program.

“And she truly identifies with all of that. She is a wonderful role model, athlete and scholar, Currie continued. “She has everything we could ask for, and we couldn’t be happier.”

Yocum said the program seemed to run a bit smoother having one year under the co-chairs’ figurative belts.

“After doing it last year, it was so much easier this time,” Yocum said. “We just kind of knew what we were doing and did it. And (the contestants) really came together in the last week. They gave it their all and it showed tonight. It was amazing.”

This year’s master of ceremonies was Brynne Deppas, who was the winner of the 2009-10 Lakewood Area Junior Miss Scholarship program. Deppas is a graduate of John Carroll University in Cleveland, where she majored in communications.

The first runner-up was Jamestown’s Jenni D’Angelo, who earned a $1,500 scholarship for runner-up and a $500 scholarship for her talent presentation. The $1,000 scholarship for second runner-up was awarded to Rebecca Young, from Falconer. The recipient of the third runner-up, $750 scholarship was Jamestown’s Haley Jones.

Kellie Rodriguez, of Jamestown, received the title of Spirit of Junior Miss, which was accompanied by a $500 scholarship. Jacinda Mekus, of Fredonia, received the $500 scholarship associated with the director’s award, which is chosen by the show’s producers and is given to the contestant who has displayed a strong work ethic and positive attitude.

Other scholarship winners included Jamestown’s Olivia Valone, who won a $500 scholarship in the category of scholastic achievement, and Shelby Adams, also of Jamestown, who won the $500 scholarship for fitness.